You may not want to admit it, but gone are the days of reading books on the toilet! Now, everyone pulls out their smartphones and plays their favorite app to pass the time. In a weird way, our washrooms or public stalls have become little smartphone sanctuaries – but not anymore for one man from southeast China.

On February 4 in Zhongstan, Guangdong Province, according to Kan Kan News, a man sat down on his toilet in the comfort of his home and began playing games on his phone.[1] After about half an hour of trying to pass a bowel movement, something unexpected happened.

It was around midnight that the unknown man was rushed to The Sixth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University. Surprisingly, a mysterious ball-sized lump had fallen out of his anus, but was still attached.

According to Dr. Su Dan who works in the gastrointestinal surgery division, the man’s rectum had detached from his body. Dr. Su diagnosed the man with, in medical terms, rectal prolapse. In this severe case, he suffered a “complete prolapse” in which the rectum becomes detached from the body, turns itself inside out, and slips out of the anus.[2]

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When doctors ran a computer tomography (CT) scan of the bulge outside of the patient’s body, they found it had a diameter of 16 centimetres. Fortunately, Dr. Su and her gastrointestinal surgical team were able to remove the bulge and he is now recovering.

“The patient has had rectal prolapse since he was four-years-old, the bulge was able to retract in the past,” said Dr. Su.[3] “But he did not have the condition treated, so the situation got worse.”

Although the man had had rectal prolapse from a very early age, Dr. Su claims that his complete prolapse was caused by the extended time spent on the toilet. A colleague of Dr. Su’s, Dr. Lv added that when sitting or squatting over a toilet, “the pressure in the abdomen builds up which would force the rectum to stick out as the pelvic muscles are not strong enough to hold.”[3]

The doctor highlighted that the patient’s intestinal wall even showed signs of bruising and blood spots.

Other symptoms of rectal prolapse may include:[4]

  • Leakage of stool from the anus
  • Leakage of mucus or blood from the anus
  • Feeling of having full bowels and an urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Passage of many very small stools
  • The feeling of not being able to empty the bowels completely
  • Anal pain, itching, irritation, and bleeding
  • Bright red tissue that sticks out of the anus

Who Is Most at Risk of Rectal Prolapse?

Although it could happen to anyone, rectal prolapse is most common in children and older adults – especially women. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition, but there are a few major risk factors:[4]

  • Straining during bowel movements due to constipation
  • Tissue damage caused by surgery or childbirth
  • Weakness of pelvic floor muscles which occurs naturally with age

How to Prevent and Treat Rectal Prolapse

First and foremost, if you experience a rectal prolapse, get to the hospital immediately. With children, prolapse tends to go away on its own. For adults, under the guidance of a doctor, there are some home treatments that can help them recover from a rectal prolapse.

So, do you think you’ll ever read a magazine or play around with your smartphone on the toilet again? 

[1] Man’s Rectum Falls Out After Playing Phone Games On Toilet. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from https://weibo.com/1845864154/G2klRzmrF?type=comment

[2] Rectal Prolapse Expanded Version. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/rectal-prolapse-expanded-version

[3] Mailonline, T. L. (2018, February 09). Man’s rectum falls out of its place after he played phone games while on the toilet for 30 minutes. Retrieved February 12, 2018, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5371581/Mans-rectum-falls-spent-long-toilet.html

[4] Rectal Prolapse – Topic Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved February 12, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/rectal-prolapse-topic-overview#1

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